THE GYMSLIP REVIEW

DARK ANIMUS Issue #1

FICTION

Soft White Underbelly by Tim Curran

An extremely well written piece. The tone of the narrative is equal to the tone of the characters, and the author did not get carried away with adjectives and description, which added to the smooth flow of the writing.

The story itself was a good one, original and well thought out. The reader is left waiting with bated breath to see where the sequence of events will lead, and although you can see the end coming it still makes you jump a little when you get there.

The only fault I have with this piece was not in the storytelling--it was the illustration on page eleven. The picture itself was relevant to events that happened on the following page, and I felt the story would have worked better had the picture not given this clue so early.

Portrait of The Artist as a Young Man by Robert-James Barker

Easily my favourite piece of the lot. The author's carefully selected adjectives work excellently, encouraging the reader to see beauty where “society” ought to see revulsion. Fantastic. We are left not only sympathising but also almost empathising with the old man.

The story was astounding, with some old ideas nicely linked to original ones. I felt that this combination of things we have seen before and fresh inspiration lent itself nicely to the writer's style, maintaining the suspension of disbelief right through to the end.

Nice artwork from Nathan Brown also--I'm not a fan of illustrations that “give away” the story, but these merely enhanced it in the reader's own mind.

Friday's Gift by Brian Scott Lingard

I must admit that this one did not immediately reel me in. Although the writing was good, flowed nicely and the tone of the narrative went well with the beginning of the piece, I simply found the beginning to this piece unexciting. The theme of the story shifted gratingly from realism to surrealism, and unfortunately the narrative style did not shift accordingly and I'm afraid I found this one extremely difficult to believe in.

Snow Angels by Greg F. Gifune

A story you cannot stop reading, with unexpected twists and maintained suspense throughout. I was able to relate to the principal character well, despite the contrast between the domestic and the surreal. Said contrast served to add to the story rather than diminishing the overall effect. However, I found the ending a blunt, unsatisfactory way to finish the tale, simply because it did not seem to fit with the characters' actions throughout the rest of the story. Otherwise an excellent piece of fiction.

Artwork by Sandy deLuca captured the essence of the story well without giving too much away before reading.

The Three Faces of Ever by Brendan Duffy.

The pace of writing was excellently maintained by careful use of sentence structure and metaphor throughout the entire piece. The author brought a whole new perspective to drug use, by spinning the reader's world perception through the eyes of a personified trip. The principal character simultaneously remained aware and oblivious to the reality of his surroundings.

The Baby Lot by Robert Swartwood

Although well written, I'm afraid I didn't really understand what the author was trying to say with this one! The story seemed not to know where it was leading, and upon finishing it I didn't feel it had really led anywhere at all...except possibly to the assumption that it had been inspired by King's Pet Sematary.

James R Cain's illustration was extraordinary, if ever so slightly abstract.

POETRY

Ancient As The Quest That Calls Her Name by Kurt Newton

Nicely written and well paced. Tells an interesting story, but I have to admit I didn't really feel much about this poem. It failed to captivate me one way or another--sorry!

Bone Cancer by Michael Arnzen

This poem creates a striking mental image of smoking skeletons, alongside raising interesting questions about society and peer pressure. They should use this one in an anti-smoking campaign! Very well written although I'm not entirely sure the poem wouldn't have worked better without the use of the last line.

Suicidiot by Michael Arnzen

In spite of a good rhythm and obviously well chosen words, all I can say about this one is, I don't get it. I didn't understand what was happening or what the poet was trying to convey.

Incoming by Nancy Purnell

Superbly written, excellent use of clauses within the poem--I also felt the use of the symbol “&” instead of a word added a certain something. The reader is left unsure whether “Monday” is a euphemism for the actions described, or the actions described are a metaphor for the way the poet feels about Mondays! Excellent in its ambiguity.

Scream 6 by Michael Arnzen

Amusing and well written, but something of a “popcorn” poem--you enjoy it while it lasts, but don't really think much about it once it's finished.

Skin Deep by Kevin L. Donihe

Without exception, this poem was my favourite of all the Dark Animus poems. It was moving, compelling and thought-provoking. It serves as an excellent reflection of society's perception of “beauty”, and the internal pain that external afflictions can create because of said perception. Full of angst and beautifully worded, I found myself thinking about this poem for some time after the first reading. The poet's use of bracketed feelings and the single conjunction “but” set apart from the verses served the piece well. Exceptional writing.

CONCLUSION

I will definitely be reading (and possibly reviewing, if this particular gymslip review hasn't offended TOO many people) issue #2 as soon as I can get my grubby little hands on a copy...


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